United States

Obesity and the Economics of Prevention: Fit not Fat - United States Key Facts


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1. Soaring obesity rates make the US the fattest country in the OECD. Overweight and obesity rates have increased steadily since the 1980s in both men and women. Three out of four people are projected by the OECD to be overweight or obese within 10 years.


Past and projected overweight rates


Underlying data and charts for all the graphics below are also available in Excel


2. Socio-economic disparities in overweight and obesity are smaller than in most OECD countries. Women with poor education are 1.3 times more likely than more educated women to be overweight. Virtually no disparities exist between men of different educational levels.


Relative Index of Inequality in Overweight by Education level


3. But ethinc disparities do exist in obesity rates, especially for women. Obesity rates are 17% higher in African-American women and 6% higher in Mexican-American women than in non-Hispanic white women.


Obesity rates in adults in the USA



4. Child obesity rates are the highest in the OECD, but growth in obesity has slowed down. 40% of American children are currently overweight. Of these, half are obese. Rates have become relatively stable in the last ten years, suggesting that substantial further growth is unlikely and overweight rates in boys might even begin to fall.


Past and projected rates of child obesity and overweight, age 3-17, in the USA

5. Hispanic boys and African-American girls have the highest obesity rates. These two groups stand out with 50% higher obesity rates than white non-Hispanic boys and girls, respectively.


Obesity rates in children aged 3-17 in the USA

6. Socio-economic disparities are larger in children than adults. Less well off children are up to 1.6 times more likely to be obese than children from higher income groups.


Socio-economic disparities in child obesity in the USA

Note: SES: Socio-economic status


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